Volume 2, Issue 2 (1973)
Effects of Peers on Preschool Performance of Low-Income Children
H.M. Rosenfeld, P. Gunnell
It is widely recognized that children from economically and socially disadvantaged families often have not performed at the level of their “middle-class” age-mates in the typical classroom setting. There has been much disagreement, however, about the determinants of such performance discrepancies, and consequently about what procedures would best improve the situation. The low performances could be attributed to at least three basic sources: inability to learn, failure to have learned, and lack of motivation to perform. Unfortunately one cannot select from among the possibilities simply by observation of the child’s performance. Yet each explanation has a different implication for remedial efforts. If the entering school child suffers from a chronic incapacity to learn, whether due to hereditary or prior environmental limitation, one would wish to provide him with less competitive and frustrating demands than are required of more competent classroom performers. If, on the other hand, the child is capable of learning the prerequisites of typical classroom work, but has not had the opportunity to acquire them, a remedial program would be in order. Finally, if the child actually had acquired the repertoire for adequate performance but his school environment had failed to provide the motivating circumstances to facilitate this performance, one would consider rearranging environmental cues and the contingencies of their presentation to the child.
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